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Despite This We Stay for May 17th, 2012

Baggy Fences

by Carol Dunn
HUERFANO — When some of us were kids, groceries were packed into paper bags without handles, and somehow human beings managed to survive that antiquated method of carrying food for thousands of years (well, at least since 1852). When I moved to Colorado, not only did I learn that a “bag” is known here as a “sack,” but shortly thereafter some genius decided that plastic sacks are far superior to those old-fashioned paper sacks. Another piece of Americana down the drain. I cried for a week. Little did I know how useful a plastic sack could be.
First of all, plastic sacks can be used as trash can liners. They are also very handy for, umm, well, I guess the only other thing they are good for is fence flags and cactus markers.
I think it’s safe to say that even if we didn’t have horrendous winds around here, somehow plastic sacks would still manage to get snagged on cacti, sagebrush and fences. On a particularly windy day, you can start up north of Walsenburg and follow the sack-flags in any direction into and out of town. In a way they are the Huerfano version of a weather vane. If they are dripping water, it’s raining. If they are stretched and flapping toward the northeast, the wind is blowing from the southwest. You know the drill. Not only are they helpful for telling the weather, they make a sweet flapping sound that beckons tourists to stop in and stay awhile. It’s not quite aspen leaves chittering in the breeze, but it’s kind of endearing anyway – you get used to it like you get used to your spouse snoring.
I read on the Internet that the European Union is considering banning plastic sacks (they have not caught up with the rest of us and still call them bags, with old sacks being referred to as old bags). But I’m here to say that if plastic sacks are outlawed, only outlaws will have plastic sacks – and somehow they will still find their way to the cacti, sagebrush and fences. They are part of the landscape now and we must embrace them. That artist Christo has nothing over on us here in Huerfano County. He might spend a million dollars to drape plastic over some natural wonder of the world, but we get our cacti and fences bagged with plastic for free.
The other thing I don’t understand is how the sacks last so long once they get snagged. They practically disintegrate before your very eyes when you are using them for groceries. The sacker puts your groceries in them, you load them into the car, and by the time you get home they already have holes in them. You grab them from the car and start to carry them toward your house and they fall apart, dumping your once-pristine groceries on the ground before you even get them in the door.
Tell me again, how were they superior to paper bags?